Today’s news:

Bayside group plans boardwalk for Oakland Lake

A Bayside nonprofit group has launched a new Web site and is in discussions with the city for a project that would place a boardwalk around the perimeter of the pathway at Bayside’s Oakland Lake.

Friends of Oakland Lake kicked off its new Web site earlier this month to attract more interest in the group, which has grown from 15 members at the time of its inception in 2005 to more than 80 currently active participants and a mailing list of 600 people from northeast Queens.

The group’s new Web site is www.friendsofoaklandlake.org.

The nonprofit group was founded to preserve the lake’s natural habitat, clean up litter at the site and ensure that its plants were native species that would be conducive to the area’s ecological health, said President Daniel Egers.

Egers said the group has also aggressively been pursuing a project that would construct an elevated boardwalk around the lake, estimated at 1,200 yards in length. He said the pathway around the lake is often flooded with water year round and that conditions at the site can become dangerous when the water freezes during the year’s colder months.

“It’s a safety issue,” he said. “If the pathway is impassable, people won’t want to walk around the lake and appreciate its natural wonder. And it becomes dangerous when it’s frozen over in the winter.”

Egers said the project would cost an estimated $600,000 to $800,000. He said the city Parks Department is supportive of the project as long as neighborhood groups are able to secure funding for it.

He said Friends of Oakland Lake and the Bayside Hills Civic Association are etching out a proposal for the project and will meet with elected officials representing the community to attempt to raise money.

“I’ve written the Parks Department on a number of occassions, telling them they need to do something about water runoff that runs down the path,” Councilman Tony Avella (D−Bayside) said. “People can’t get onto the path without mud boots.”

Egers said visitors to the lake must often brave a muddy or waterlogged pathway. He said the conditions are not only caused by rainfall, but also from underground springs at the site that feed the lake.

He said a boardwalk used to exist at the site, but has not been up for several years.

But he said the recent economic downturn could potentially slow down the project.

“We think we’ll get this done sooner rather than later,” he said. “[The Parks Department] is on board. They realize this needs to be done. It’s just a matter of how we will pay for it.”

Parks Department spokeswoman Janice Melnick said Borough President Helen Marshall has secured $500,000 for the project.

“Oakland Lake is one of our natural treasures in this borough,” she said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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